Friday, April 19, 2024

Season 3, Episode 8:

Righteousness in Public Health Research

In this episode, Dr. Joyee shares what she has learned about what it means to bring righteousness to research and how you can do it too.

Season 3, Episode 8: Righteousness in Public Health Research

by Dr. Joyee Washington


Welcome to the Public Health Joy Podcast — the safe space for real and honest conversations about what it takes to transform public health research into life-changing solutions for our communities.

 I’m your host, Dr. Joyee, a public health researcher, PhD survivor, and entrepreneur. In today’s episode, I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned about what it means to bring righteousness to research and how you can do it too.

 This is the joy ride you’ve been waiting for. Join us as we revolutionize public health through research done … with … for … and BY our communities. Together, let’s create our Public Health Joy!


Join Dr. Joyee for a thought-provoking conversation on the role of righteousness in public health research.

In this episode, she delves into the importance of integrity, honesty, and humility in driving positive impact and equity. From challenging the status quo to embracing discomfort, we explore how righteousness guides our decisions and shapes our journey in the world of public health research.

Tune in for insights, inspiration, and a fresh perspective on creating meaningful change in our communities.

Links mentioned in this episode: 

For more information on transforming public health research into life-changing public health solutions through our specialized strategic advisement and training services, visit

Key Points

  • Joyee seeks to position herself and her business for long-term success while navigating part-time jobs. [2:35]
  • Joyee grapples with work-life balance, decides to quit last part-time job to become full-time entrepreneur. [5:09]
  • Joyee reflects on personal growth through difficult decision to prioritize business over other aspects of life. [10:40]
  • Joyee emphasizes the importance of ethical decision-making in public health research. [16:15]
  • Joyee emphasizes righteousness in public health research, including integrity, transparency, humility, and community-centered approach. [19:36]
  • Joyee emphasizes pursuing justice and equity in public health research. [22:13]

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1:00 I’m so glad you’re here and you decided to join me for one of our special chats. Whether it’s your first time listening in or we’ve been hanging out for a minute, it’s a pleasure to talk with you today. The last time we had one of these conversations was in the very beginning of this season, episode one and what I told you was that I wanted this year 2024 to be a year of exponential growth, if you haven’t listened to that episode go on and make sure you listen to it so you can have some more context. But let me tell you something, you know how folks say be careful what you ask for. I was mindful of that and I said I want exponential growth, but I want to be prepared for the exponential growth, I want to be able to handle it in the right way. I want to know what I’m getting myself into and be ready for all the fruits of my labor to just be explosive. And even though I made my intentions very clear, chile I still wasn’t ready for what 2024 was about to bring, and we only 4 months in, so honey let me catch you up on my year so far.


2:35 What you probably already know is that I own a business, I am a public health entrepreneur. I am a community-engaged research consultant. In my business I work with non-profits, community based organizations, public health organizations, and academic institutions to help them successfully implement their community engaged research strategies by building meaningful community partnerships, conducting impactful research, and creating data-informed solutions that bring joy to our communities. What you probably don’t know, [or you might if you follow me on social media] is that for the past 4 years, since I started this business in 2020, I have been working multiple part-time jobs on the side to make ends meet while I build my business. Entrepreneurial endeavors as flashy as they might seem on social media, in the real world don’t always pay the bills right away. This is nothing new, a lot of entrepreneurs do this, some people even work a 9-5 while building their business. But when I was approaching 2024, something was different about it.


4:06 In 2023, I made some changes to my business, I begin figuring out how I wanted to position myself and my business in the world. I started asking myself, “How do I want to show up not just in my business but for myself, for my family and for my community?” While I was in this process of self-discovery, if you will, I found myself getting more and more disgruntled with my part-time jobs. Like you ever wake up one day and say “I don’t even wanna go to work today, I don’t wanna see nobody, I don’t want to deal with nobody stuff”….then you think about it for a little while and talk yourself into going to work and what you say, “Let me go in here and get this check, let me go in here and get this little money since the bill is due tomorrow.” And mind you for the last 4 years, I have survived a PhD program, completed my dissertation during the COVID-19 pandemic, started and built a business, and worked multiple part-time jobs all while life was life-ing the whole doggone time. Yo girl is tired. And towards the end of 2023, something just was not sitting right with me.


6:04 I said you know what, I’m doing too much. Let me take inventory of what I can let go. What is sucking up my energy. So in November 2023, I was working two part-time jobs so I let one part-time job go, turned in my resignation, didn’t look back, and baby it felt good. I enjoyed my holiday season, I went down to just focusing on one part-time job and my business. Weight lifted. But then after the holiday cheer wore off and I’m trying to high-step into 2024, I still had that nagging “I don’t want to be here, I don’t want to go to work feeling”. Now I’m down to one part time job, which is my only steady pay check and in my mind I’m like, it don’t make sense to let this go, I need this little money while I keep building my business. So now I’m finding myself in the position of asking myself, “What is the right thing to do?”


After much thinking, praying, talking with my husband, some more thinking and praying, I came to the decision that the right thing to do was to quit that last part-time job I had been holding on to for dear life and become a full-time entrepreneur, I’m talking making the jump with no safety net.


This is why that decision was hard for me:


  1. Where is my money gonna come from, let’s deal with that reality first. I’m not gonna have a steady paycheck.
  2. I am a very analytical person. I make calculated moves, baby. I don’t stuff willy nilly. I typically have everything planned out with contingency plans should things go awry. I like to know that when it comes to big things like my career, my business, my finances, my family that everything is going to be taken care of. So my plan was always to work part-time as much as possible until I felt comfortable that my business could pay me that steady paycheck.
  3. Making a big move like this without a plan is completely out of character for me. That’s not comfortable for me. That is scary to me. I don’t even like going out to eat without looking at the menu first, deciding my options, thinking about what I could possibly eat if the restaurant is out of my top choice and having back up options for other restaurants to eat at in case I don’t want to eat at the first place. I’m calculated. I know I’m not the only one so you can stop laughing me. But now I’m going to drop my only source of steady income, my mind was like girl you have lost it, but my spirit said you have found it.


10:40 In that moment, I had to be honest and transparent about where I was in this point of my life as a researcher, as an entrepreneur, as a wife, and as a millennial just trying to get my life together. Now that is has been 4 months since I made that decision to drop everything and focus solely on my business, here is what I’ve learned, although the decision was hard, this is why it was the right decision for me:


Because it pushed me beyond my limits, it forced to go into unknown territory, and it caused me to discover parts of my being that I didn’t know needed work and improvements. So even thought it didn’t feel comfortable, and it was going to cost me the life I knew, there was something bigger on the other side. A life I didn’t know I could have. But the only way I could make that right decision, was I had to do some internal work to determine what is my level of righteousness to be able to discern and decipher how this decision was going to impact my future and those around me.


It’s the same way in public health research and the work we do with our communities.


12:44 Through this process and throughout my life, I’ve learned to constantly question and reflect on what does it mean to, as Spike Lee says, do the “right” thing? [If you haven’t seen that movie, go watch it].  So that means we have to define what “right” means. And doing the right thing can mean different things to different people. But first of all, let me give you the good ol dictionary definition so we all know what we talking about. The definition of “right” means morally good, acceptable, or justifiable. So when we take a deeper dive and think about what is important to us and the people around us in terms of morals, values, beliefs, ethics, and character, in order to make the right decisions we have to ensure that we are making decisions, which are external, from an internal place of righteousness. We got to be right on the inside first. So let me explain that a little further.


When I was growing up, there was a wise old man I used to know, been around my family forever, since I was born, he was the pastor of our home church that my family attended. When I got ready to graduate from high school, he gave me a gift. So when I opened the gift, it was dark brown frame, like a picture frame. In that picture frame was piece of paper. On that piece of paper, typed in big letters it said “Words to live by: In every situation trust in God and do that which is right.” And he quoted his mother.


As a high school student, I’m like this is thoughtful, but what am I supposed to with this. But nonetheless, it was a constant reminder that encouraged me to always make good decisions from a place of righteousness, do that which is right, acting in a just and honorable manner that did not just consider my wants and needs, but also the people around me


16:15 But as I got older, I started to realize that not everyone follows the path of what is right, morally and ethically, especially in public health research. A lot of times people only follow the path of what is right for themselves. Historically, we’ve seen that, research has done a lot of wrong in our communities. In the present day, we see that researchers taking data that belongs to communities, not working with communities to create solutions, getting that grant money and leaving the community in the dust, and allowing racism, white supremacy, and systemic oppression to lead us right into the dark. None of it is right and we have to more than just call out what’s wrong, that’s only the first step, we have follow up.


So that means the question becomes how can right those wrongs, can we right those wrongs, or can we find the righteousness within ourselves and see the righteousness, dignity, and humanity in others to make the right decisions moving forward. That means doing the right thing and making the right decisions even when there are challenges, even when things get hard, even when we are experiencing despair, even when there is pushback, even when it makes us uncomfortable, and baby believe me I been there, it ain’t easy.


But if we want to see a true change in our communities through public health research, we have to start asking ourselves the questions:


What is right?  [And] Who is it right for?


How can we bring more righteousness to research in a way that delivers justice, equity, and joy to all?


18:54 As we are asking ourselves these questions, we have to get ready to get real uncomfortable because this is where we have to get real. Making the right decision is not easy especially when you have so many factors involved, when the decision impacts more than just you, and you’re thinking about what will the right decision cost me or cost others. A lot of times what keeps us from making the right decision is fear. We are afraid of what we are going to lose, maybe it’s money, or power or opportunity or even our livelihood or maybe we’re afraid of failure.


But what is going to keep us grounded and help us lift each other is acting from an internal place of righteousness and making the right decision challenges us to think beyond ourselves. So when you are engaged in public health research, you need to know that driving positive impact and equity for our communities requires righteousness. What does that even look like?


Demonstrating integrity in your interactions with the community.


Being Honest and Transparent with your community members and partners.


Showing Honor and Respect for Others.


You are Embracing Humility.


You are Being Real.


Having Faith in our communities


Recognizing power in our communities.


Embracing the wisdom of our communities and using wisdom in how you respond to our communities.


Showing Support in a way that moves beyond yourself and is sustainable.


You are sharing and being generous


You are seeking the good and the joy in your work and everyday interactions and having an attitude that reflects joy even in the midst of the challenges you may be facing.


22:13 You are willing to Fight for Revolutionary Change. Righteousness is not for the weak.


If we can work towards these things in our public health research and in our practice, we can’t go wrong because on the other side of righteousness is reward. That reward is life, high quality of life, healthier communities, and the ability to experience joy in all spaces and places. Because just as righteousness is internal, joy is internal as well. If we continue to pursue goodness, joy, and righteousness internally, that shows up externally in our decision making, in our work, in our world around us. You can’t contain joy.


If we’re going to do research the right way, we have to realize that true righteousness lies in the relentless pursuit of justice and equity for all.


[Outro] For more information on transforming public health research into life-changing public health solutions through our specialized strategic advisement and training services, visit


I am so grateful for this time we got to spend together. If you enjoyed this episode, I need you to subscribe, rate and leave a review.


This is where research meets relationship. And I’ll see you next time on the Public Health Joy podcast.



 © 2024 Joyee Washington Consulting, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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